California to Raise Smoking Age to 21, Ban Vaping in Public Places

March 10, 2016 Updated: March 10, 2016
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California is set to pass some of the strictest tobacco laws in this country. 

A new bill would raise the smoking age in the state from 18 to 21, and would regulate e-cigarettes as regular tobacco, according to the Sacramento Bee. 

The bill was passed in the Senate by a 26-10 vote, and would become law if it’s signed by governor Jerry Brown. 

If the bill becomes law, California would be the only state apart from Hawaii with a minimum legal smoking age of 21.

If the bill becomes law, California would be the only state apart from Hawaii with a minimum legal smoking age of 21. 

An especially contentious point in the bill is that it would treat e-cigarettes the same as other tobacco products, which would ban it from being used in public places, including schools and restaurants. 

Legislators have been applauded by health advocates for cracking down on smoking. 

“Tobacco use claims the lives of 40,000 Californians each year and costs the state more than $13 billion in medical expenses,” the American Cancer Society said, according to USA Today. “Over $3.5 billion are taxpayer dollars used to treat Medi-Cal patients with tobacco-related illnesses.”

Legislators had previously attempted to ban vaping in public places, including college campuses, in 2015, but the bill was eventually jettisoned, according to the Sacramento Bee

The US has a patchwork of bans on using e-cigarettes in public places, varying from state to state and city to city. In 2014, Los Angeles banned vaping in public places.